Bereavement Damages: a Dis-United Kingdom

This is the title of a report published yesterday by APIL which examines the different approaches to bereavement damages across the UK, an issue we had covered in detail last March in this post.

As is well-known, the use of statutory amounts of damages and closed classes of eligible claimants in England & Wales and in Northern Ireland contrasts with a broader, subjective approach in Scotland where higher awards are often made to members of a deceased’s extended family. It is no surprise that the report calls for some levelling up of the laws, but what is new is the level of public support it purports to show for change, with around 70% of some 2,000 respondents to YouGov surveys regarding the statutory levels as too low and supporting a more subjective approach.

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Two setbacks for any new discount rate in NI?

Yesterday the High Court in Belfast heard a judicial review challenge to the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) decision not to strike an interim personal injury discount rate (PIDR) while new legislation on rate-setting proceeds. Later that afternoon the Justice Committee discussed the timetable for the new legislation, as a result of which the Bill now looks unlikely to conclude before the year end.

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Significant news on the discount rate in Northern Ireland

Officials from the NI Department of Justice gave evidence this afternoon on the way forward following consultation over the summer on the mechanism for setting the personal injury discount rate. There are two significant developments:

  • First that the officials indicated that on balance the Department had concluded it would not proceed to reset the existing rate based on the 1996 Act, ILGS yields and Wells v Wells.
  • Second is that the Department will seek to introduce legislation quickly to deliver a new legal framework for setting the discount rate.
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